Yemen Travel Guide
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Yemen World Heritage Sites
Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.
The Old Walled City of Shibam in Wadi Hadhramaut, inscribed by UNESCO in 1982, two years after Yemen joined the world heritage organisation, is nicknamed "Manhattan of the Desert", because of its "skyscrapers". Surrounded by a fortified wall, the 16th Century City is one of the oldest and examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.
The ancient Old City of Sana’a at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet has been inhabited for over two and a half millennia and was inscribed in 1986. Sana’a became a major Islamic centre in the 7th Century and the 103 mosques, 14 hammams and more than 6,000 houses that survive all date from before the 11th Century.
Close to the Red Sea Coast, the Historic Town of Zabid, inscribed in 1993, was Yemen’s capital from the 13th to 15th Century, and is an archaeological and historical site. It played an important role for many centuries, because of its university, which was a centre of learning for the whole Arab and Islamic world. Algebra is said to have been invented there in the early 9th Century by the little known scholar al-Jaladi.
The latest addition to Yemen’s list of World Heritage Sites is the Socotra Archipelago. Mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th Century, this remote and isolated Archipelago consists of four islands and two rocky islets near the Gulf of Aden. The site has rich biodiversity. 37% of Socotra’s 825 plants, 90% of its reptiles and 95% of its snails are unique and do not occur anywhere else in the world. It is home to 192 bird species, 253 species of coral, 730 species of costal fish and 300 species of crab and lobster, as well as a range of Aloes and the Dragon’s Blood Tree. The cultural heritage of Socotra includes the unique Soqotri language.
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